Hanoi (VNA)Cambodia has temporarily banned all imports of farmed fish from neighbouring countries in efforts to promote locally farmed fish, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).

The Khmer Times reported that the temporary ban followed a meeting held at the ministry on January 8 together with representatives of the Cambodian Aquaculture Association, fish vendors, importers, and exporters.

The MAFF imposed the ban following requests by farmed fish breeders who said they are badly affected by the market being flooded with smuggled farmed fish from neighbouring countries, which has led to a drop in prices for the domestically farmed fish.

The ministry said in a statement that farmed fish, especially catfish, giant snakehead fish and other farmed fish that can be locally bred, are now temporarily banned from being imported from neighbouring countries till further notice.

It has also asked the Cambodian Aquaculture Association to collect in-depth data on the monthly total production of farmed fish, the types of fish supplied to the local market, and the monthly consumption figures.

The MAFF said it can get local vendors to buy locally produced farmed fish to supply for traders in the market.

Importers and exporters of farmed fish have also agreed to the ministry’s decision, the Khmer Times noted.

During his visit to a fish farming site last week, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said that fish production had increased notably following the government’s call for more local food production to meet domestic demand which will in turn reduce imports of farmed fish.

Sok Raden, President of the Cambodian Aquaculture Association, said the organisation has 200 fish farmers who are capable and have the capacity to produce enough farmed fish to meet domestic demand.

MAFF figures showed that the production of farmed fish reached 400,000 tonnes last year, while fish caught from natural lakes and the sea were 413,200 tonnes and 122,700 tonnes, respectively./.